Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

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Shellshocked: Prologue

'Angel of the Morning' is approaching completion and, since I posted Chapter 17 yesterday, I have been industriously pressing on with Chapter 18. However, I burned myself out on it a little, and needed a break. The muse wasn't in the right place for the overt humour of "Savage Beauty" or "Sunnydale Passions", as I have been feeling slightly unwell, but it was in exactly the right place to make a start on my next fic, and I therefore present the Prologue to "Shellshocked".

Angel Season 5 AU. What if someone else had been infected with Illyria instead of Fred?

I'm not sure what the rating is going to be, but I rarely do graphic sex so R at most, and this is definitely PG-13 or less. Just a short piece to set the scene; 1,225 words.

Shellshocked: Prologue

Fred and Knox gazed at the mysterious sarcophagus that had been delivered to the lab, apparently without any requisition or authorization. It was a puzzle; and, unfortunately, Fred was completely incapable of resisting the lure of a puzzle.

“You want me to get our HazMats on this baby?” Knox asked.

“Yeah, and see about where it came from,” Fred replied.

Knox nodded, and walked out of the lab, leaving Fred scrutinizing the object. She stared hard at one end, where a circular iris was surrounded by five purplish crystals. “Strange,” she muttered under her breath, and stretched her hand towards the crystals. Just as she was about to touch one the lab door opened and she turned.

“Hi, Fred,” Harmony greeted her, extending a clipboard. “Angel wants you to sign this. Oh, and he’s bitching about your department expenses again, but hey, when isn’t he?”

Fred smiled at the vampire girl. “Was this really that urgent?” she asked, and took the proffered clipboard and pen.

“No,” Harmony admitted cheerfully. “I just wanted to ask you something. You and Wesley, huh?”

“Yeah, me and Wesley,” Fred confirmed. “I guess ‘bout everyone knows, huh?” She read through the document, being much too thorough to sign anything without knowing what it was, and then signed it.

“Pretty much,” Harmony said. “Fred – I know you probably want to spend all your time with Wesley, but, maybe, if you have a little time, maybe you could, I don’t know, come for a little drink with me and tell me all about it? I mean, we’re friends, right? And you don’t have any other girl friends here, so, that makes me your best girl friend. So, you should totally give me the inside track.”

Fred hesitated. Harmony sincerely liked her, she knew, but the blonde was shallow and self-obsessed, and probably just wanted to gain status among the other secretarial staff by getting hold of juicy tit-bits of gossip that she could dole out to those without such high-level contacts. On the other hand, Harmony’s irrepressible enthusiasm could be fun after a long day at work, and Harmony had promised to pass on a few sex tips. Fred wasn’t terribly experienced, whereas Harmony was an ex of Spike and had undoubtedly learned quite a few things. “Maybe, just for an hour, after work,” Fred said. “Same place as we went last time?” She turned her attention back to the sarcophagus.

“Well, that didn’t work out too well for me,” Harmony said, “but I guess it wasn’t the place, it was that Tamika girl spiking my drink, so, okay.”

Fred reached out and touched one of the crystals. The iris opened.

Harmony shot towards Fred at full vampire speed and knocked her aside just as a spray of some gaseous substance was ejected from the iris. The spray hit Harmony full in the face.

“What the hell?” Fred exclaimed.

“I saw that thing opening,” Harmony explained, pointing at the iris, and inhaling the gas as she breathed in to talk. “Whenever something like that happens in the movies, it’s always something nasty. I think something came out of it. You’d best stay back, ‘kay? I’m undead, poison won’t work on me. Or those sorta spore thingies. I saw them on Discovery.” She coughed suddenly, bringing up her hand to cover her mouth just in time. “Guess there was something like that.”

“Thanks,” Fred said, feeling rather shaken. “Uh, but you could breathe them out onto other people. Maybe you oughta get checked out at Medical.”

Knox rushed back into the laboratory. “What happened?”

“Something came out of the sarcophagus,” Fred told him. “Gas, spores, something like that. It would have hit me in the face, only Harmony pushed me outta the way and got hit instead. Lucky she can’t catch diseases, huh?”

Knox stared at Harmony, his face oddly expressionless. “Yes, it is,” he said coldly.

“I’ll get to Med,” Harmony said. “You’ll tell Angel you said for me to go, ‘kay, Fred? ‘Cause, I’m supposed to go straight back.”

“That’s Miss Burkle to you,” Knox snapped.

Fred turned to him with her eyes wide. “Why, Harmony can call me ‘Fred’ if she wants to,” she told him. “She’s my friend.” She emphasized her point by giving Harmony a beaming smile. “Hey, the drinks date is still on if Medical give you the all-clear, Harmony, sweetie.”

“Sure thing, Fred,” Harmony responded, stressing the name and glaring back at Knox. “See you later.” She departed with her hand still held over her mouth.

Fred focused her gaze on the sarcophagus once more. “That was strange,” she remarked. “Almost like it was a trap.”

Knox didn’t reply. Fred turned and saw that he was staring fixedly at the door through which Harmony had exited. His brows were lowered in a frown and his lips were set in a tight line.

“Knox? What’s up?” Fred asked.

“What? Uh, nothing, nothing,” the scientist replied. “So, the sarcophagus shot something out? Guess we’d better take precautions whenever we touch it.”

“And maybe find out more about where it came from,” Fred suggested.

“Yeah,” Knox said. “I suppose we should.” He gave the door another dirty look; almost a silent snarl.

- - - - -

Lorne stopped at Harmony’s desk and smiled at her. “I heard about your little adventure with the Mummy’s Curse, sweetcheeks,” he said. “I take it Medical gave you the all clear?”

“Yeah, no ancient germs,” Harmony assured him. “Guess I didn’t save Fred from anything icky after all.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “We’re going out for a drink after work, and she’s going to tell me all about how she and Wesley got together, ‘cause I’m her best girl friend.”

“Well, I hope you have a great time, Harmonica,” Lorne said. “You going to hit the karaoke?”

“Maybe not. My voice isn’t all that great. Hey, remember when you called me ‘cacophony’? I totally didn’t know what that meant, but I looked it up.”

“Your voice is fine, sweetie pie,” Lorne assured her mendaciously. “You just sang the wrong song. ‘Memories’ just wasn’t right for you. You’re young, full of life – well, maybe not life – bouncy, bubbly, up-tempo. You should sing something new, something modern.” ‘And something well away from me’ he added mentally.

“Like, maybe, Avril Lavigne?” Harmony suggested.

Lorne cringed inwardly, but he hated to hurt anyone’s feelings, and smiled and nodded. “That generation, yes.”

“I could totally do that,” Harmony said brightly. “Yeah. ‘He was a skater boy, she said see ya later boy’,” she sang, quietly, and reasonably in tune.

Lorne started to smile in relief but the smile froze on his face. “Harmony,” he began, but was interrupted by Harmony suddenly clutching her chest and vomiting out a gout of blood. “Medical!” Lorne shouted. “Somebody call a medic.”

“Lorne, I, I don’t feel too good,” Harmony moaned. She slumped in her chair and wrapped her arms around her stomach.

“Easy, sweetcheeks, easy,” Lorne soothed her. “You’re sick. We’ll get Medical and they’ll fix you right as rain.” His eyes were grave, belying his soothing words; the flash that he’d seen of her destiny was a nightmare.

“Vampires don’t get sick,” Harmony groaned. “I can’t take sick time. Angel will be cross with me.”

“Don’t worry, Harmonica, I’ll handle the Boss Man,” Lorne assured her. “Medic! Somebody get Medical right now!”

To Be Continued ...

The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. ANGEL ©2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The ANGEL trademark is used without express permission from Fox.

Tags: fic, shellshocked
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